Urban flight and wildfires be damned — Gucci is doubling down on brick-and-mortar in California’s Bay Area.
The luxury giant had been slated to host its Cruise 2021 runway show in San Francisco in May, before the pandemic forced its cancellation. Now Gucci is following through on its focus on the tech-rich area with the renovation of its 11,000-square-foot Union Square flagship, and a new store at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara, the richest county in California and the fifth richest in the U.S.
“San Francisco has always been a key location for Gucci, and even more so today, given its historical significance as a city that champions self-expression, and freedom,” said Susan Chokachi, president and chief executive officer of Gucci America. “San Francisco was chosen by Alessandro Michele as the backdrop for Gucci’s Cruise 2021 fashion show that was scheduled to take place in May, timed to coincide with the reopening of our downtown location. While the unexpected events of 2020 changed our plans, we are now excited to be able to honor our commitment to the city with two Bay Area projects that will both come to life in early September.”
Located on Stockton Street, the downtown flagship faces Union Square, with a terra cotta facade, 15-foot-high ceilings, and an oversize mezzanine window overlooking the first floor. The decor captures Gucci’s signature industrial-meets-romantic vibe — sage green and cherry red upholstery and fitting rooms, marble and herringbone inlaid floors, vintage rugs, mechanized display units.
The brand’s second Bay Area store opens in Northern California’s largest mall, Westfield Valley Fair, which has 2.2 million square feet of retail space and outposts of Balenciaga, Dior, Cartier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. The San Jose center in the heart of Silicon Valley had just reopened in March following a $1.1 billion renovation when it had to close under California’s coronavirus restrictions. It reopened again on Aug. 31 at 25 percent capacity, following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s easing of restrictions on indoor malls. (Gucci has eight stores and two outlets in California.)
“They are both distinct in their design concepts, with the San Francisco flagship renovation reflecting the iconic architecture of the landmark building on Stockton Street, classic design details, double high ceilings and a VIP room that floats on the mezzanine level,” Chokachi said. “Meanwhile, the new Valley Fair location marries Alessandro’s most current store concept with dedicated elements such as unique pink wall finishes and custom geometric painted wood floors. Through this investment in our direct network, the San Francisco Bay Area now confirms its rightful place as one of Gucci America’s strategic city locations.”
In other Gucci (North) America news, Toronto’s 8,000-square-foot Bloor Street flagship will also be reopening after a renovation. Like the others, it will feature men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, jewelry, watches, eyewear and Gucci Décor. Gucci has two stores and one outlet in Canada.
Gucci parent company Kering reported its worst financial quarter on record at the end of July, but flagged “encouraging” signs of recovery for the second half of the year as brick-and-mortar reopened in mainland China, and in the U.S. and Europe. Sales at Gucci fell 44.7 percent in the quarter, compared to 23.2 percent in the prior three months.